Spanish Muslims Demand “Joint Use” of Catholic Cathedral

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Muslim rights groups in Cordoba, Spain are pressuring the local bishop for a “joint use” agreement that will entitle them to share usage of the Cordoba Cathedral in order to alleviate the need among the growing Muslim immigrant population in that country for worship space.

Spero News is reporting that the conflict in Cordoba began during Holy Week in April when a group of Muslims attempted to force their way into the Cathedral, injuring two people.

The incident was the result of rising anger among the ever-increasing Muslim immigrant population in Spain to secure adequate worship space. Many of them argue that because Catholic churches are so little used, they should be shared with the Muslim population, an idea that has the support of the country’s Socialist leaders.  

However, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain, affirmed on June 12 that any “joint use” by Muslims wishing to worship at the Catholic cathedral in that city is but “a euphemism that means: Catholics, get out! We will not leave, except if we are kicked out, since for 16 centuries there has been Christian worship here.”

He went on to say that sharing the cathedral is not possible “neither on the part of Muslims since Muslims do not allow a shared temple, and neither do we Catholics.”

The Cordoba Cathedral is a unique phenomenon in that it actually has a church built entirely within what was once a mosque, Spero reports. The complex consists of a former mosque which was built upon the remains of a Catholic church built during the Visigothic era that was razed by Muslim invaders in 711 AD. The mosque was built from materials taken from the remains of other destroyed Catholic churches. It was not until 1492 when the Muslim forces were defeated at Granada by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel that the building was  returned to the Catholic Church.  The building is considered to be one of the “gems of Europe.”

Lack of worship space has become an increasing problem for Muslims in Spain who have been streaming into that country from Africa and the Middle East.  Many are unemployed due to the economic slump, and can be seen praying on the streets and sidewalks of Spain in an attempt to draw attention to their need for worship space.

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